Isn’t waiting the worst? Cancer makes you do a lot of waiting. Waiting for test results. Waiting to see the doctor. Waiting for the chemo coma to end. Waiting for your prescriptions. Waiting for your white blood cells to rebound. Waiting. Waiting. Waiting.
Usually when I visit my oncologist (still can’t believe I have one of those), we get moved through the stations pretty fast. 1. to the lab for a blood draw. 2. to the scale for a weigh in 3. into the waiting room to see doctor. 4. to the pods for treatment. Today it felt like 1- wait an hour- 2 wait an hour – 3 wait an hour – and 4 – get hooked up to a herceptin drip for an hour.
My leg was bouncing, Joel was telling stories, I was trying to be patient, phone kept buzzing “so . . how are your white blood cells?” More leg bouncing. More stories. God, I hate waiting.
They always ask me to change into a “gown” before the doctor sees me. (By-the-way why is it called a gown? A gown is something Cinderella wears. This is like a weird scratchy apron shirt.) Anyway, today when the nurse got it out I told her I didn’t want to put it on. She seemed to understand, and said, “just leave it on the table, maybe they won’t make you undress”. This made me uncomfortable. That would be like not following a rule. But I’m wild, so wild and crazy, that I didn’t put the gown on. Nope. Just sat there in my shirt.
Nurse practioner came in and asked me how I was doing. Really, for the most part I am doing okay. She asked me to hop up onto the table for an exam. I just unsnapped my bra and lifted up my shirt. Huh? I could have refused that “gown” this whole time! Who knew! She asked me how the breast was doing. I told her what I tell them every single time, “I don’t know. I don’t touch it. I don’t even wash it.” She laughed and said, “yes you do.” I said, “No. Really, I don’t.” (That breast has betrayed me. Plus I am super afraid of feeling another bump). Another exam. Another sliver of green: they still can’t feel the tumor.
Enough about my boob. How are my blood counts? “Well, it looks like you are still in the recovery phase. Not as high as last time, but higher than March. They should be where we need them to be in three weeks for your surgery.”
Okay. Not great news. But not bad news. I’ll take it.
So my blood cells are S-L-O-W-L-Y on the rise. More waiting. But I know they will go up.
And guess what else is on the rise? My spirits. And that is because of you. You. All of you. Today I felt your prayers. They wrap around me like sunshine on a breezy day. I can close my eyes and feel them. All of your thoughts and well wishes, and acts of kindness bind together to create this cocoon of love. I am safe here. I can heal here.
I will never be able to repay you. It would be impossible. But I will give all of this love back. I will hold doors for strangers, pick up trash at the park, sing a little louder at church, squeeze my boys even tighter than I do, and love each and every student that sits down in my classroom just as they are. This love will never be lost on me. I can promise you this. I am absorbing it now. But I promise to push it out to the world in every way possible, even on my weakest days. I promise to love, and love, and love.